South Western Railway appoints new managing director
Claire Mann has been appointed Managing Director of South Western Railway (‘SWR’) and will take up her post early in 2021.
Claire has more than two decades' experience in the transport sector and has held a number of senior leadership roles in the rail industry including Director for Docklands Light Railway (‘DLR’) at Transport for London (‘TfL’) where she led the DLR team; Operations and Safety Director at Arriva Trains Wales; General Manager East at the former First Great Western (now GWR) and Customer Service Director at London Overground.
Most recently, she moved within TfL to become Director of Bus Operations, where she was responsible for the day-to-day delivery of the capital’s 9,200-strong bus fleet.
Mark Hopwood, currently Interim Managing Director of SWR, will return to be Managing Director of GWR on 4 January 2021. The role of SWR Managing Director will be covered by Mike Houghton, Chief Operating Officer, from 4 January 2021 until Claire joins.
Claire Mann said: “I’m really looking forward to joining the SWR team. This is a railway close to my heart and one that is vital for connecting so many diverse communities.
"I am passionate about delivering an excellent customer experience and building on the great work already underway to transform this railway. People are the most important part of any successful operation and I am looking forward to meeting the teams and individuals across the SWR network.”
Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director, said: “With her experienced background in customer service and public transport, Claire is well-placed to lead South Western Railway as we continue our £1.2bn programme to transform the travelling experience for our customers. We are all looking forward to having her on the team.
"Although passenger numbers may be suppressed at the moment, people will want to travel again for work or leisure, and we are ready to play our part in helping the economic recovery across the network. I’d like to thank Mark Hopwood performing this important interim role over the past year and for his commitment to improving services for customers at SWR.”
Steve Murphy, Chief Executive Officer MTR UK, said: “I am delighted that Claire has agreed to join us as SWR’s Managing Director. Claire’s outstanding leadership qualities, along with her extensive experience across the transport sector, will be invaluable as we drive the business forward in line with our customers’ expectations. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Mark Hopwood for the excellent job he has done as Interim Managing Director.”
Mark Hopwood said: “It has been an honour to lead the team at SWR and I would like to thank all my colleagues for their professionalism, dedication and commitment in what has been a challenging year. I feel we have made real progress with our performance, our investment programme and improving our customer experience. I know that I head back to GWR leaving SWR in very capable hands.”
Claire Mann has more than 23 years’ experience in the transport industry. She began her career at Heathrow Express starting out as a Customer Service Assistant before moving on to be one of their first train drivers.
Since then, she has held a range of senior leadership posts including General Manager, Customer Service Director, Projects Director and Operations & Safety Director roles in several train operating companies.
In 2016, Claire joined Transport for London (TfL) as Director for Docklands Light Railway (DLR), where she led the DLR team and managed the collaborative working relationship with DLR’s franchisee.
After a year running the DLR, Claire took the role of Director of Bus Operations at TfL, where she was responsible for the day-to-day delivery of London’s bus services through operational teams and contracted bus operators, focusing on safety, financial and operational performance. This also involved delivering major commitments such as leading the strategy towards zero emissions across the 9,200-strong bus fleet and launching a world-leading Bus Safety Standard.